While my company’s sales force penetrated 15% of the intraocular lens market, one salesman in Chicago, took his territory to a 70%+ market penetration. For this article we’ll call him Tom. As the director of sales I needed to know what Tom was doing to achieve such dramatic results. I called him and asked if I might spend a few days with him shadowing him in his territory. I needed to learn his secrets so I could disseminate them to the remainder of the sales force.
Although Tom was now one of our top people and was earning in excess of $400,000 per year he remained modest. He still drove a less expensive American car, lived in a modest home, was humble in personality, and thrifty in all of his behaviors. Tom was self effacing, hard working, honest, friendly, service oriented, and had many other good traits.
I asked him, “What makes your successful?” At first he couldn’t tell me anything beyond, “I work hard.” Surely that was true, but most of the sales reps in our sales force worked hard and they were not seeing his results. There were people who worked harder, knew more, presented better, and dedicated themselves to the effort who were not seeing his results.
Eventually we talked territory and account management strategy. This is when I began to understand better his use of “Concentration of Force” as a habit in his territory and account management. This is a strategy that Wal-Mart used to win against K-Mart.
Tom explained that rather than run around his territory trying to see every account he would select an important account target and work there for a couple of weeks until he had all the business, had agreement from all the ophthalmic surgeons, had buy-in from all the decision makers in the hospital, and had a multi-year signed contract. As soon as he had built a company fortress in this account and established high trust relationships with everyone, as soon as he had built a near unassailable bulwark of support, he would move his focus to the next account on his list of targets for the year.
It was interesting to note that by doing this he would build a strong reference account that he could then leverage with the next account. About every two to three weeks he moved to another major account in his territory. By doing this his conversions and sales grew at a faster pace than any rep that just hopped around his territory.
Soon, Tom had so much business that his competitors started to lose their sales jobs in his territory because of lack of performance. They were trying to see more and more accounts while he was concentrating his force. Eventually these competitors lost 70% of the market to him and had difficulty keeping sales people in the territory.
It’s worth taking the time to ask yourself, how can you concentrate your force on that which matters most to you? How can you become more effective through a concentration of force?